We’ve talked about plenty of flags of the world in our series. Much to our chagrin, we realized we hadn’t ever talked about Ol’ Glory. The Stars and Stripes. We have–shockingly–never discussed the history, symbolism, and design of the American flag. Don’t worry. Today is the day we end this.
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Let’s talk about the American flag!
You likely know it well. 13 bars and 50 stars. The red. The white. The blue. What does it all
The flag as we know it today is its 27th iteration. Each previous design was changed with the inclusion of more states.
The flag’s symbolism was laid out plainly by Adam Goodheart, and we see it best to quote him in full. When Goodheart speaks of “that day” he is speaking of the day the Civil War started.
“Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory, flown from forts, embassies, and ships, and displayed on special occasions like American Independence day. But in the weeks after Major Anderson's surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew—as it does today, and especially as it did after the September 11 attacks in 2001—from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. For the first time, American flags were mass-produced rather than individually stitched and even so, manufacturers could not keep up with demand. As the long winter of 1861 turned into spring, that old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.”
The now legendary story of the flag’s inception is as follows: Betsy Ross sewed the original flag by hand after she received a drawing of the flag from George Washington. This story is widely disputed and unconfirmed but remains a key story in the flag’s design.
And now you know how our flag came to be! Wave it high, wave it proud!